Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh is undoubtedly one of the most beloved painters today. His story is one that nearly everyone is familiar with. And yet in his own time, Van Gogh was considered just another want to be artist who wasn’t going anywhere and crazy to boot. It is tragic that Van Gogh didn’t survive to see his own rise to fame and appreciation in the art world. Out of the dozens of paintings created by Van Gogh only one ever sold. But still Van Gogh put all of his time, effort and money into creating these magnificent works so full of life and color.

Sometimes considered a late Impressionist, sometimes considered a Post-Impressionist, Van Gogh took the Impressionist ideas of a snapshot of time and the use of light and color and made them his own. Van Gogh’s Self Portrait shows this technique which he molded to suit his own uses. The paint is layered thickly, great globs rising from the surface of the painting in ways that would have made any artist shudder less than a hundred years before. A light shines on Van Gogh’s right shoulder; his left side is cast in deep shadow. The background is full of the swirling color that Van Gogh is so known for. Shades of blue and white intermingle, bending and swirling in an unseen wind.

This swirling bands of color are perhaps best scene in Van Gogh’s masterpiece, Starry Night. This night time scene was the view from his hospital window during one of his numerous stays at the hospital. Vincent Van Gogh new that there was something wrong with him, that he suffered from depression, and wanted very much to get well. He checked himself into the hospital, bringing his art supplies with him. The swirling light of the stars and moon brings an otherworldly beauty to the serene night painting. It is easy to imagine the gently blowing, swirling wind blowing into the hospital window, the hazy sheen that surrounds the moon and stars after a hot, humid day, and all the world cast into the blue-black glow of the midnight moon.

It is easy to depict pain. There are so very many ways to portray the physical and mental torture that a human being can go through. It is something else entirely to harness the pain and struggles of humanity and turn it into something so beautiful, good, and soothing. Van Gogh managed to take what could have been a miserable and lonely existence, and instead saw the beauty in the world around him which he communicated through his art. Several thousand paintings is an incredible achievement for any artist who has lived a long, healthy, and prominent life. But for such a tortured soul who couldn’t sell his work and died an untimely death by his own hand, it shows a kind of dedication and love of craft that many individuals don’t find within an entire lifetime.


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